Seven homeless people in Minneapolis are suing the city and Mayor Jacob Frey for allegedly clearing camps without warning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Minneapolis launched a homelessness initiative in June allowing homeless people to live in public parks “temporarily until decent alternative spaces can be found” due to the lack of social housing and the “Growing number of homeless people,” according to the city’s website. .
“We just filed a complaint with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid to prevent Hennepin County and Minneapolis officials from destroying camps and evicting homeless people from their homes there,” wrote the Minnesota ACLU in a tweet Monday night.
A second tweet added that with “little or no notice, law enforcement is bulldozing shelters, throwing away personal effects including souvenirs, ID cards, clothing and blankets.” and called the city’s actions “cruel” and “illegal”.
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The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) challenged the lawsuit in a statement to Fox News, and Frey’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The MPRB has been humane, legal and measured in its responses to temporary camps in the parks,” Council said. “Before any attempt to remove people from an encampment, homeless people in a park or people facilitating an encampment were given advance notice and offers of assistance in finding suitable and suitable shelter. No one has violated their civil or human rights. ”
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ACLU and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, on behalf of seven homeless people named in the lawsuit, accuse the city of conducting “sweeps” of homeless settlements, forcing people to seek refuge in “spaces”. crowded accommodation ”, increasing the risk of complainants of contracting COVID-19.
The lawsuit accuses police and city employees of illegally seizing or destroying “personal property without adequate notice, just compensation or other due process guarantees.” It also details individual accounts of clashes with city officials or the police, bulldozers sweeping up people’s belongings without warning, and being denied other shelters due to overcrowding.
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The MPRB said “many” allegations in the trial “are simply false.”
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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an emergency executive order in March banning officials from cleaning up homeless settlements in April, but changed the pace in May when he said local governments could “restrict , limit or close camp spaces ”if they had provided sufficient public shelter or housing in accordance with guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Governments could also restrict or close settlements that “reach a size or status that constitutes a documented threat to the health, safety or security of residents.”
The MPRB said it “has been supporting unsheltered people in parks since spring 2020, as required by Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID and homeless people decrees” and “implementing these directives of the council in accordance with the decrees of Governor Walz ”.
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Walz announced a $ 100 million housing assistance program in July to prevent homelessness and evictions under the federal Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES).
Hennepin County officials approved a $ 22 million plan in early October to spend $ 22 million on six new homeless shelters as part of the county’s $ 220 million federal funding program; the county council is expected to vote on the initiative in the coming weeks, according to the Star Tribune.